Animate Character 2D From 3D MeshSaturday, October 21, 2017 3:37 AM
A very powerful feature of Creature is the ability to import in a 3D mesh and a create a fully Animated 2D character out of it. You can animate it with Creature's procedural motor system and light up your character with automatically generated normal maps in 3D.
Please watch this Video Tutorial on how to create a 2D Animated Character from a 3D Mesh here.
First, create a new 3D to 2D Project from the Project Wizard:
After selecting the above option, you will be greeted with a blank screen and a UI showing you a couple of options:
There are 2 modes available: Pose and Edit. Pose is where you rotate your 3D mesh around to pose it for the camera. When you create the final 2D animation project, it will be created in that specific pose of the mesh. Edit is where you define the different mesh regions for the rigging mode after the project has been created.
Here are the basic Project options for this mode:
Starting from Left to Right ( Horizontally across ), the buttons perform:
Import Mesh - Imports a 3D Wavefront OBJ mesh. Make sure the entire character has been merged into one Single Mesh. It should also contain UVS and Normals.
Import PNG Texture - The default UV mapped diffuse texture of the character
Import PNG Normal Map - The Normal Map texture of the character ( optional )
Create 2D Animation Project - This will create the 2D Creature Animation Project from the 3D Mesh
To start out, make sure you import in your 3D OBJ Mesh as well as assign it a PNG texture map. When that happens, you should see the character display on screen:
CTRL + Drag to rotate the character, Mouse Scroll to zoom in and out. There are 2 types of cameras available: Perspective and Orthographic. Here are the Perspective Options:
Likewise for Orthographic ( which is more suitable for a 2D projection/isometric game if you need that sort of view):
For most cases, Perspective should be good enough, even for isometric situations.
Here is where you paint out the different mesh regions in 3D. You will define the different body parts ( head, torso, arm etc. ) of the character which will be created for you in the final 2D character:
Start by adding in the new regions by clicking on the + button. Then proceed to use your mouse to paint in 3D the triangles associated with that region. If you want an area effect paintbrush, uncheck Precise Paint and play around with the Paint Radius.
Saving Region Sets/Authoring Session
When you are done, you can export out your 3D authoring session so you can re-use or continue it in the future:
The left button saves out your current session while the right button loads in a previously saved session ( together with all the painted regions ).
Create New Creature Project
Finally, when you have finished painting all the regions and posing the character exactly you want ( make sure the character is Fully Visible ), click on the Create 2D Animation Project button to get to this screen:
Image Resolution The image resolution to render the character with. The higher the more detail there is.
Atlas Resolution How big of the final character atlas to fit the rendered character body parts. Make sure this is large enough to accommodate the image resolution!
Padding How much space there is between each body part in the atlas
Supersample Create and render the 3D character down to 2D in high quality
IMPORTANT: Remember to Uncheck Active in the Pose window if you want to use 3D Lighting. This means you want to render the character WIHOUT any lighting effects first on project creation but use the normal maps later on to light the character with realtime 3D effects.
Click on Create to create your new Creature 2D Animation Project!
Generated 3D Character Normal Map
The 3D Normal Maps of the character will also be automatically generated for you and put into the Data3D directory of your Creature Project ( so if you creature project was called MyProj.creaProj, it will be in MyProj.creaProj\Data3D ):
Assembling the Character
With the newly created project, go into Rig mode, and click here:
Pick a sizing ratio ( experiment with a few numbers 0.7 to 1.1 to make sure the character fits. You can run this over and over again ) to make sure the character fits, or manually adjust for the final step. Then go ahead and rig your character as per normal.
3D Lighting in Animation
In Animate mode, you can now enable 3D lighting of your character:
Go to Animate -> Lighting and Normal Map Preview to show the above option. Select your Normal Map from the project's Data3D subdirectory and you will be able to see your 2D character lighted up in 3D!